Web based Project Management Systems for small to midsize businesses

INTRODUCTION The system is an application platform combines popular project management functionalities with desirable communication tools which automates management tasks, and records detailed actions from all users. The system measure and analyze user’s activities based on participation and performance. In addition, the platform is designed to be modular and dynamic to suit a wide range of company requirements while still retaining its reporting and management capabilities. The proposed system also improves the business efficiency by providing project managers and organizational management a detailed and accurate view of the exact usage of company time, resources, and users; which allows users to adjust and redirect resources to maximize efficiency. Utilizing competitor research and past development experience, the functionalities implemented in system seeks to improve the organization by increasing information clarity and understanding between users and organizational structure. While maintaining the current user’s needs, it also improves the permissions, approvals, automating management activities and reporting tasks. The System fulfills these requirements through implementing automated management and reporting, a layered collaboration style, and various communication forms in a web based platform for all users in an organization. A multi-layered communication style that combines audio, video, and text communication to each individual level of an organization’s project, increases transparency horizontally through an organization, improves information clarity, and fosters teamwork between users. Simultaneously, the implementation of visible and distinct collaboration layers and task ownership roles will improve organizational consent and structure between project levels. In addition, to improve the organization’s communication, the application’s platform ability to automate managerial tasks and reporting project results will eliminate the micromanagement behavior, while still maintaining a high standard of productivity. In rewards, it will promote organizational participation, unity, and positive relationships by relinquishing control and granting users considerable freedom to use the application platform as they require for completing tasks. The application platform was initially designed and implemented with research on the ideal communication style to optimize organization cohesion and transparency, and prioritize user and client usability and functionality. However, changes and compromises were made to the initial design to better fit business functional requirements and program limitations.

BACKGROUND & RESEARCH The main purpose of this systems is to design a modular communication and management application platform that promotes user participation, accountability, and relationships. The system will provide users the ability to communicate using multiple mediums throughout an organization, while automating management and reporting tasks. Through the identification of potential problem and areas of improvement with communication and participation in projects in business organizations. A design solution was proposed to handle and solve key weaknesses in the communication and management systems. In this research there were sixteen popular project management and communication tools available in the market had been reviewed. Namely are Products G Suite, Microsoft Office Suite, WebEx, Skype, Communifire, BlueJeans, GoToMeeting, Unified Meeting 5, Fuze, Asana, Do, Wrike, Mavenlink, Teamwork Projects, Liquid Planner, Project Manager.

In conclusion, the sixteen most popular project management and communication tools available in the market do not sufficiently fulfill nor support the application of Tudor’s (2016) ideal managerial communication style vertically or horizontally in the organization. In Tudor’s (2016) analysis, the best managerial communication style was to have upward and downward communication directed at consensual decision making and clarity of organizational structure. Meanwhile, focusing on horizontal communication that improves information and data clarity is necessity. The current available market products do not sufficiently provide enough features and functionalities to promote vertical structure through group and user management. Another limitation the task and workflow management does not promote the horizontal information and data clarity through various audio, video, and text communication. Some products circumvent these disadvantages through integration with third party applications, this requires that the native applications to be solely cloud or web based. This limits the information control and flexibility of the application that makes the applications unsuitable for some organizations. In order for an application to support Tudor’s (2016) most efficient communication style, it must provide various communication forms between each individual in the organization. It also allows structured communication and notifications between each layer and task of a project. While, it must provide automated management reporting and notifications functionalities to match its market competitors. It was identified that the communication systems used in these businesses had too many internal policy restrictions regarding usage and functionality, as well as limited customization and reporting available throughout all technical systems. In addition, management was regularly bound to the enforcement of communication rules, user roles, and project tasks because the communication system, management system, and reporting system were not correctly integrated with each other. In Tudor’s 2016 paper titled “The influence of the Intranet on Managerial Communication Style”, the author describes the negative effects and results of an inefficient and incompetent management when using the intranet as an internal communication channel [1]. Tudor summarizes and explains the advantages of communication and management through an intranet, is eventually offset by its inefficiencies and management’s lack of understanding [1]. The communication channels in the intranet eventually become impossible for employees to use, due to poor network uptime, unequal access for users, data and message repetition, and storage clutter. Tudor emphasizes that, in addition to the eventual weaknesses that affect the intranet due to poor management, the tendency for management level user to exert control or micromanage the communication and structure of communication channels, restricts user’s ability to communicate freely and openly as required to complete their work. This in turn, grows employee frustration while expending a significant portion of management’s time that should be spent on improving business functions [1]. Tudor explained that these frustrations cause employees to seek alternative communication tools outside the organization, which causes other users to follow, as the need to communicate with other employee and frustration with the current system grows. This causes communication to be separated into multiple small disjointed groups, and hinders employee’s capability to complete tasks, gather the required information, or communicate effectively across the organization. As users continually abandon the current communication channels for exterior communication channels, less and less users utilize the current system. With less users reachable in the current system, the problems with the current system grow larger and become more significant, causing more users to abandon [1]. According to Tudor, the security problems with communication and information distribution outside the organization and the difficulty for management to measure or enforce accountability, become significant problems for the organization. Tudor states: “Over controlling leads to the loss of control. Restrictions in Intranet professional communication leads to deterritorialization towards the internet.” [1]. In the second part of the research paper by Tudor, they explain the ideal communication style that managers should employ to improve the intranet communication channels and promote user participation. Through a quantitative matrix, Tudor could find that the best communication style for managers is to have vertical collaboration focused on increasing interpersonal agreement and building relationships, while having horizontal communication focused on improving the understanding and clarity of data and information [1]. Tudor also emphasized that management, policies, and communication tools must also grant users enough freedom to complete work and tasks as they required. To do this, the intranet must employ applications and policies that support the ideal communication style, while providing the greatest number of functionalities to give users the tools to work efficiently and freely [1]. Tudor’s demonstrates that a key weakness in communication systems was that users felt that information and functionality was being limited from employees, and that information was not being provided to all employees equally [1]. The constant need for management to involve themselves in the auditing of user communication, and micromanagement of time and tasks in a project, caused human errors which delayed or completely stopped communication in the organization. Because these weaknesses negatively impacted the information distribution and communication in the organizations, it caused frustrated users to find other forms of communication outside of the organization. Users who chose to communicate outside the organization with third party tools began to bring other employees out of the organization who needed to communicate with them, leading to an eventual wave of employees choosing to abandon the organization’s chosen communication system. This negatively impacts the organization by drawing resources and disjointing communication from management and other users, making information available outside the company’s boundaries and making it difficult for managers and project leaders to accurately measure the time and resources spent on tasks. The workplace needed a communication tool that promotes relationships between all levels of employees, provides various communication forms for all users, and promotes thorough and equal information propagation throughout an organization. The workplace also needed an automated management and project reporting system that is integrated with the communication system, to alleviate the tasks of work and user management away from management. This is so that management can focus on improving group communication and relationship to promote business productivity and participation. The ideal communication and management tool should have the ability to facilitate real-time communication between all members in an organization, automate user and project management tasks, create and contain levels of interconnected communication channels for projects, and generate and have clear visual representations for tasks and timelines. In addition, the ideal communication and management tool should automatically report and notify users and project leaders of changes in the project, while automatically alerting related users through an integrated user structure. These features will support and enforce the ideal communication style of vertical relationships and horizontal clarity, while endorsing user participation and supporting each user’s communication needs.